Let it snow, let is snow, let is snow……What am I obliged to do, as a homeowner, for snow and ice?
In Ontario, homeowners have a a duty to keep their property reasonably safe for others.
Section 3 of the Occupiers Liability Act (Ontario) reads:
3. (1) An occupier of premises owes a duty to take such care as in all the circumstances of the case is reasonable to see that persons entering on the premises, and the property brought on the premises by those persons are reasonably safe while on the premises.
(2) The duty of care provided for in subsection (1) applies whether the danger is caused by the condition of the premises or by an activity carried on on the premises.
This means that you, as a homeowner, need to keep your driveway, steps and the like reasonably clear of snow and ice for others who visit you, including delivery people, guests and even strangers, such as canvassers and people trying to inspect your hot water heater to sell you an allegedly better program.
If you do not, you may face liability for failing to keep your property reasonably safe for others.
While home insurance is designed to offer some protection to you, it is important that you act reasonably to keep your property reasonably clear of ice and snow you should not do nothing and rely on a home insurance policy to protect you if you are sued. Claims will also cause your premiums to increase, too, if your home insurer does not decide to drop you as a insured client altogether if you make a claim and you failed to take reasonable steps to keep your property reasonably clear of ice and snow.
There is also a question in Ontario about whether a homeowner must also take reasonable steps to keep the municipal sidewalk clear of dangerous snow or ice. The best practice is to keep it monitored and, if the municipality is not properly clearing it regularly and keeping it in good condition, taking steps should be considered, such as shoveling, using sand or salt and calling the municipality to attend to take proper steps.
You should take these steps as soon as you can after a snowfall or ice build up. If you are too busy or away, you should consider hiring a snow removal contractor to help you or ask a neighbour to do it for you temporarily.
Avoid a lawsuit, be winter safe at your home.
This WARDS PC BLAWG is for general information only. It is not legal advice, or intended to be. Specific or more information may be necessary before advice could be provided for your circumstances.